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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"


other centre where learning went on in a freer and more generous
atmosphere. But with all its defects, Roman education was
superior to Greek in at least one respect. In accordance with the
Roman genius for system, the methods of teaching those subjects
considered worthy of study attained a much higher degree of
mechanical perfection. It was largely for this reason that the
Roman model rather than the Greek was followed in the educational
reconstruction which began with the passing of the Dark Ages,
and that down to the Nineteenth Century the study of language
by analytical methods has almost entirely monopolized the interest
of the schools of Europe. Even when the Renaissance brought
back the Hellenic spirit to the modern world) the tradition of
Roman method proved so strong that it took three more
centuries to restore to education the breadth and depth of
Greek culture.


The educational literature of Rome has the same narrow
practical character as the education to which it relates. The
first Latin works about education were treatises on particular
subjects of instruction, no longer extant, by Cato the elder
(234-149 B.C.), and by Varro, mr eruditissimus Romanowm
(116-27 B.C.). The latter is generally regarded as the writer of
the first encyclopedic work on the liberal arts. His book, Disciplin-
arum libri novem, is believed to have comprised a discussion of
grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy
(astrology), music, medicine and architecture, the first seven of
which were designated from the Fourth Century A.B. the Seven
Liberal Arts, and constituted the standard course of higher
instruction. There is doubt about the fifth, sixth and eighth of
the subjects, which makes uncertain his right to be regarded as
the pioneer in the definition of the liberal arts. It is not unlikely,
however, that his work actually did serve as the link between
Greek and later education by keeping alive the memory of
those Greek studies which had become obscured by Roman

When Roman education took more systematic form, and
literature and rhetoric became the predominant studies of the
schools, the encyclopedic interest in the various subjects of